This week’s Member in the Spotlight is Jamie Balagia of San Antonio, Texas. Jamie is exceptional with a capital E, not only in passion but in genuine sincerity for all he meets. His Texas size personality is only outmatched by the size of his heart. For Jamie, all this passion is a reflection of the truth he has found in his life’s mission. For Jamie’s story is a happy one with a most logical end in “good cop turns defense lawyer hero”. He played football for two years at Texas State graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice. He then joined the Austin Police Department obtaining the rating of Master Peace Officer and serving nobly for 13 years. He even gained fame as an undercover officer on the Original Vice Squad. Wanting to pursue a lifetime dream, as well as being unimpressed with the defense lawyers who cross examined him on the stand, he took the LSAT and scored in the top 2% of the country earning him a full academic scholarship to the University Of Texas School Of Law. With a Teddy Roosevelt type of impatience and insatiety, he raced through law school in just 26 months while working as a criminal law clerk for Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney Gregory Zaney. He even managed to convince the State Bar of Texas to allow him to sit for the bar exam before graduating law school! While awaiting his bar results, he opened an office as a police consultant. No surprise, he immediately found himself successfully representing Austin police officers facing disciplinary actions. This strengthened the belief of many in the community that if Jamie could beat the police department against its own members, he certainly could help its citizens. And help he has done in spades.

Jamie is very active within the legal community. He is a Faculty and Sustaining Member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD), a Super Fellow of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, on the Legal Committee of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, a Board Member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA), and a member of the following: Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (ACLDA), San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (SACDLA), National Criminal Trial Lawyers Association (NCTLA), as well as the American Chemical Society (ACS). He has the highest ratings on Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo.

Jamie’s list of extracurricular DWI training is one of the most extensive of any attorney in the country. To briefly summate, not only has he attended all the traditional courses on standardized field sobriety testing, the Intoxilyzer 5000 and its maintenance, Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE), and Gas Chromatography (Axion), his extensive interest in research has led him to take courses on forensic urine, pharmacology and even phlebotomy! Jamie was the first DWI trial attorney in Texas to attend and obtain certification in phlebotomy by the North American Association of Phlebotomy Technicians. When asked about his approach to law, knowledge is the key. He responds “Go to every seminar, class, certification course and special training opportunity. Read all the material that the prosecutors and cops won’t read and absorb the list serve posts. Know the law, the science and the facts better than the other side.” He truly fulfills this creed.

When asked about his favorite wins, Jamie relishes the DWI trials where his clients are police officers. Jamie’s approach to trials? “Catch the cops every time they lie on the stand. Then let the jury call BS with a Not Guilty verdict.” Who better to do this than a beloved cop himself? As for his favorite thing about being a lawyer, his big heart comes shining through. “Helping people in a tough spot that can’t help themselves.”

For those who know Jamie, they know that despite his extremely busy schedule (with 7 lawyers in two offices, he has the largest DWI firm in Texas), he is the first one to call in a true emergency. He is the loved one who delivers the eulogy for our beloved members who pass. He is the one who shows up at the hospital bed of an NCDD member who is dying and delivers the final words of peace. He is the first to call and offer medical suggestions when a loved one is going through cancer. Not only does he give advice, he has been known to volunteer driving people to Mexico for cutting edge treatments not yet approved in the U.S. His friendship, loyalty and compassion knows no bounds.

Jamie has been married to Masae for 26 years. He has been a great stepdad to Cara and Casey and has two more children, Kalista and Cainan both in college. Throughout the years, he has balanced his busy work life alongside coaching Cainan’s football teams as well as sponsoring community events such as Austin’s Cheech and Chong, the Swimsuit USA International Modeling Contest- Austin, just to name a few.

Jamie Balagia is truly a people’s champion. He relates to all; swiftly undermines the abuse of police without them ever seeing it coming; charms and cajoles all within his captive scope without boring them with the academic and scholarly prowess which defines him. Jamie, never plays to lose. Jamie, we at NCDD salute your accomplishments, leadership and love for humanity. You truly make the world a better place.

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